Post-Katrina sludge puts kids at risk, says NRDC

Government officials have been downplaying the public-health risks posed by the post-Katrina sludge coating greater New Orleans, which is spiked with potentially dangerous levels of arsenic, lead, and petrochemicals. So says a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, based on U.S. EPA data. NRDC is urging the government to clean up the toxic sediment before allowing young children back into the city. An official from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality counters that reports like NRDC’s misuse state screening standards to make things look much worse than they are. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Louisiana, an internal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report warns that the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge is threatened by huge spills of toxic liquids and gases caused by Hurricane Rita. Over 1,400 barrels of yuck are sinking into the low-lying marsh — important habitat for migratory birds — and the agency doesn’t have enough money to clean it up.